Dec 20 2011
Paul Carpenter’s commentary in the Allentown Morning Call highlights a major problem inherent in electing judges — the money problem. Carpenter focuses on reactions to a recent post-campaign solicitation on behalf of Judge-elect Doug Reichley. In Pennsylvania, judicial campaigns can continue to raise funds following the election, but only for a limited time. This prompted a solicitation letter, from two lawyers on behalf of the Reichley campaign, to all 700 lawyers in Lehigh County requesting donations of $100 to help retire the campaign’s debt.
Carpenter noted that Reichley claimed he would not be influenced by campaign contributions, but, Carpenter observed:
Those who cannot see into Reichley’s heart, however, might fret over which lawyers acceded to the demands and which ones didn’t. Also, suppose you have a lawyer who paid the $100 but the other side has one who paid significantly more.
In your mind, maybe there are echoes of the judicial scandals in Luzerne County, or a few in Lehigh County, or even at the Pennsylvania Supreme Court level. Maybe you feel you’d better shop for a lawyer who knows how to play ball.
Barry Kauffman, Executive Director of Common Cause, noted that “We shouldn’t have people going into court wondering if the other side has made contributions to that judge.” He further explained that the only way to avoid that is Merit Selection.
We agree that Merit Selection is the way to solve the money problem — simply put, it gets judges out of the fundraising business. No longer would anyone have to worry whether the litigant or lawyer on the opposing side of the case had contributed to the judge’s campaign and what effect that might have. That would be a very positive change for Pennsylvania.
Tags: Allentown Morning Call, Barry Kauffman, Common Cause, Doug Reichley, Lehigh County, Paul Carpenter